early Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pauline Oliveros: hinge

well, it’s only fair, despite his legendary self-diefication, to include him in comparison/collusion with the previous posts on avant-garde 20th century ‘classical’ music, isn’t it? there was something unfortunately, hubristic about his drive. unfortunately, i don’t have his collection of theoretical writings with me here in merida, otherwise, i’d quote from them. they are quite brilliant, and represent perhaps the 3rd or perhaps 4th of the coeval threads extant during the formative period of the 50s. cage vs boulez vs stockhausen vs, as the 4th thread, brown. for those who are wondering, minimalism came later.

 

however, pauline oliveros’s work, Sound Patterns, 1961, predated some of KS’s compositional techniques, winning her the Gaudeamus International Composers Award in 1962, and rightly so. oliveros often improvised with the Expanded Instrument System, an electronic signal processing system she designed, in her performances and recordings. she was asked to compose the music of one of cunningham’s central work, Canfield, 1969, the choreography of which was based on using for its chance operations a particular form of the card game of solitaire invented by one John Canfield. The premiere of Canfield took place in Tesla’s hometown in the then Yugoslavia, so oliveros entitled her composition: ‘In Memoriam Kikola Tesla, Cosmic Engineer’. [not available on youtube] Carolyn Brown, in her extraordinary 600 page account, Chance and Circumstances: twenty years with cage and cunningham,  describes oliveros’s work thusly:

[her score] consisted of three pages of instructions for the musicians. Tesla once – so the story goes – adjusted an oscillator to the resonance of his studio and nearly brought the building down. In Canfield, the musicians’ ultimate task was to discover the resonant frequency of the building in which the dance was performed but not to go so far as to bring the building down… They had a series of steps to follow, including describing – in an immediate and personal way, via walkie-talkies and the public-address system – the actual performance of space, comparing it to other spaces; recording the conversation and the environment as they explored the theater, including backstage, the basement, the lobby; and finally playing back the accumulated reportage, plus the accumulated sound material along with the oscillator-generated resonant-frequency sounds.

(p. 531)

[Brown later in her book describes the typical audience response to this musical work – it was typically mayhem…  but cage as music director, and in sync with cunningham, never gave in to audience responses and always remained faithful to oliveros’ work.]

so while the following works are not her In Memoriam, they fairly represent the type of work she was doing at that time.

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early Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pauline Oliveros: hinge

musica elettronica viva: late 60s, early 70s: hinge

by the time of Musica Elettronica Viva’s first performance in 1967, cage and tudor, boulez and stockhousen, and a bit later, mumma and oliveras and lemont young among others, had been been raising havoc with music/sound since the early 50s. it should be noted, however, that their music reached the widest audiences through their musical accompaniment through the dance performances of merce cunningham’s dance company; which drew audiences from a remarkable array of constituencies: those expecting ballet, those expecting modern dance, members of the avant-garde 20th century music crowd, a remarkable wide panoply of artists from what has come to be called the neo-avant-garde [post WWII]. so audiences tended to regularly clash attempting to outdo each other with boos [and often much worse expressions] and bravos, often creating scandals equally as riotous as Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring in 1913.

the Musica Elettronica Viva [MEV] consortium, consisting of several musican and shifting over the decades, included Alvin Curran, Richard Teitelbaum, Frederic Rzewski, Allan Bryant, Carol Plantamura, Ivan Vandor, Steve Lacy, and Jon Phetteplace.  They performed to riotous acclaim in 1967, 1969, and early 1970s, and intermittently ever since.

I include three of their early performance here; which, to our ears in 2018 will not be shocked. But it should be noted that an even earlier forebear was Edgar Varese, and his significant influence on Frank Zappa, also composing and performing in temporal parallel. All to say, the standard divisions and seemingly well delineated genres of rock&roll, avant-garde classical, jazz, experimental and electronic music, in retrospect, are far from being so clearly bounded. today’s well know categories such as noise, industrial, electronica and the like seem commercially tame, and tainted, in comparison to those forging uncompromising paths beyond and outside of traditional ‘musical’ expectations after Schoenberg.

and while there is no doubt that MEV was given ‘license’ to compose and perform as they did by Cage, they cannot be reduced to the ‘Cagean’ school of chance operations. they were equally influenced by, and this is not well known, Earle Brown’s invention of ‘indeterminancy’, otherwise known as ‘open form’, which Brown was the first to invent and develop over the course of his remarkable career; beginning with his Folio in 1952, as commented on in a post below. chance operations and indeterminancy should not, at all, be confused.

 

musica elettronica viva: late 60s, early 70s: hinge

musical consciousness across borders 3: and associated sculptural events by John Roloff: hinge

George Lewis has long been active in creating and performing with interactive computer systems, most notably his software called Voyager, which “listens to” and reacts to live performers. Vijay Iyer’s 1998 dissertation, Microstructures of Feel, Macrostructures of Sound: Embodied Cognition in West African and African-American Musics, applied the dual frameworks of embodied cognition and situated cognition to music.

and to recall from previous posts:

the following is also by Vijay Iyer:

and to recall from previous posts: the sculptural work of John Roloff:

roloff_RIBA2.001

as john as written about this work:

In Metabolism and Mortality/O2, the oculus image has transformed into molecular status, outward vision is now subsumed by an inward looking devotion to geo-chemical/thermodynamic processes and history.

Sited along what was the of the drip line and furthest lateral extent of a large, now dead beech tree on the Tyler campus are the project’s two principal elements: the Furnace and the Greenhouse. These two instruments symbolically represent the beech tree’s past life and current death systems on a macro-molecular level and as an elemental protagonist in the larger narrative of the work. Furnace and Greenhouse were envisioned as ions of an oxygen molecule (O2) separated by the primal and arboreal forces of entropy and dissolution but are still united and activated by similar thermal processes: the Furnace by ignition of fossil fuels developed by the photosynthesis of sunlight in ancient forests and their subsequent geologic distillation, and the Greenhouse by the collection and entrainment of contemporary solar energy. The solar heat within the Greenhouse is measured differentially from the outside atmosphere by it’s internal thermometers (a span of as much as 50o F. between the inner and outer environments has been noted).

https://johnroloff.com/

https://johnroloff.com/oculus_1and2_page.html

roloff_RIBA2.002roloff_RIBA2.004roloff_RIBA2.003

musical consciousness across borders 3: and associated sculptural events by John Roloff: hinge

musical consciousness across borders 2: a sampler of musical chronotopology where it’s mostly least expected: hinge

note: zappa wrote orchestral scores for some of his works: and for those boulez conducts on the album below, he and zappa worked together. so this is not the case of a famous conductor/composer deciding on his own to transpose zappa into orchestral terms. what’s recorded, is zappa’s own orchestral work. for better or worse. personally, i prefer zappa’s non-orchestral versions. but you can’t blame Z for wanting to hear his works played by one of the most renowned, avant-garde classical musicians/composers of the period. zappa began listening to Verèse when he was 13, even wrote to him and attempted to meet that amazing avant-guardist, which never happened. so the boulez conducts album is his realization of his 13 year old self’s, dream. and hey, boulez should be given his due credit for recognizing zappa’s musical brilliance.

Frank Zappa “Letter to Edgard Varèse”

 

john zorn:

if Nietzsche had been 20th C. modern… he would have been grooving to Yello as the perfect antidote to Wagner. my comment is not entirely parodic, at all. N lay claim to the necessity of the necessity of joy and pleasure with absolute seriousness. and Y realizes in it’s music, that all important pearodox, in a 21st Zarathustrian way.

perhaps even in a Sufistic way. if you don’t believe me, listen to and watch this:

okay, be skeptical, but Y is and has been the greatest, poetically consistent euro band for decades:

and L of dorset would concur. why?

why? they synthesize, spin, mutate and thereby, evolve, not only themselves, but ‘culture’ in general. in Yello, there is nothing that does not permute, joyously even when absolutely bleak. they join spectacle with calvinist anti-spectacle; join deprivation with what’s rife; condemn while elevating. they joyfully embrace tragedy as the most worthy of humanly conscious inevitabilities. and they sing about everything that is and is not. and they make condemnatory commentary that is simultaneously, acceptance. they are modern epicurians with something of both the skeptics and the  give-up-your-soul religious nihilists. but in the end, they are not nihilists but promoters of a possible, far from guaranteed, future.

just listen to them.

musical consciousness across borders 2: a sampler of musical chronotopology where it’s mostly least expected: hinge

and they thought it couldn’t happen here: grace jones and her contribution to chronotopology: along with: bowie and moondog and szabo and zappa: hinge

to widen and plumb the depths of its cultural scale:: which may or may not be deep and/or shallow: but it does have a trajectory. regardless.

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Initially I wanted black on black in black – the background, the outfit, and Grace – with just that touch of white in the cigarette. I then changed the background colour to beige. I gave Grace’s lips a shade of dark brown or prune and dusted her cheekbones and torso with blue pigment to bring out the volume. The cigarette was all about colour and composition. I subsequently used it in other images, too, on her eye and below her nose. Of course, it also suggests something rebellious.

People thought she looked outrageous, alien even. But it wasn’t just for show. I wanted this character to have great dignity. I wanted it to be a slap in the face to all the entertainment of the day, the Diana Rosses and other stars, all made up like stolen cars, with windswept hair. This was pure rigour, a girl being perfectly serious.

Jean-Paul Goude

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/aug/01/jean-paul-goude-best-photograph-grace-jones-nightclubbing

Tavia Nyong’o, a cultural critic and performance studies professor at New York University call[ed] her work the “performance art of the nightclub.” Jones is often relegated to the status of performer rather than artist, which is a shame. Viewing her work under the lens of art thus becomes an act of historical correction. She is, as Nyong’o explains, concerned with “the art not just of the body but of the flesh,” confronting “not the ease, but the ardor, of being yourself.”

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Living My Life

Cuss me
Cuss me
Cuss me for living
Cuss me for living my life

Leave me
Leave me
Leave me for living
Leave me for living my life

Choke me
Choke me
Choke me for living
Choke me for living my life
I’m living my life
Living my life
Living my life
Just living in my life
As hard as I can
As long as I can
As much as I can
As black as I am
I’m living my life
Living my life
Living my life
Just living in my life

Boss me
Boss me
Ya boss me for living
Boss me for living my life

Ya hate me
Hate me
Hate me for living
Hate me for living my life
Ya hate me for livin my life
mmmmmmmm

Kill me
Kill me
Ya kill me for living
Kill me for living my life
Living my life
Living my life
Living my life
Living my life

Brainwash me
Brainwash me
Brainwash me for living
Brainwash me for living my life
mmmmmmmmmm
You can’t stop me
You can’t stop me
You can’t stop me

[jones and bowie should have been cast together in something…]

 

Image

chronotopology: dance/music/poetic commitment to the ‘avant-garde’ – excerpts

documentation of merce cunningham’s solo, Changeling, circa 1953

cunningham/cage in holland: excerpt from 50′ piece.

the beginning of my long term research into vanderbeek, cunningham’s work, Variation V, 1965/66: short excerpt:

documentary on ‘chronotopology’ = spacetime; though the participants refer to space and time, and as cunningham best articulates, is a matter of relating space and time, and though considered separately, the result is their inseparable fusion.

much more recent: Pond Way 1998, excerpt: sound = Eno; stage set = Roy Lichtenstein

 

the most brilliant of the classical avant-garde pianists/performers for 40 years or more: david tudor: rainforest, a work as great in the music world as… as any other great work in any medium. my friend paul demarinis, a student of tudor’s, has been one of the musicians included in this work since its inception since he helped create it. whenever it’s performed, paul is among the musicians. this work was the sound for one of cunningham’s dances of the same name.

 

chronotopology: dance/music/poetic commitment to the ‘avant-garde’ – excerpts

sound: open form: earle brown: on musical chronotopology

The music of Earle’s that Pierre [Boulez] liked was in the tradition of the Schoenberg/Webern aesthetic and thus near his own. “He had no patience with my Folio stuff,” Earle recalled, any more than he’d had with Cage’s chance methods of composition, but Earle’s germinal concepts set forth in Folio – graphic notation, collective improvisation, and open form – would eventually influence not only composers – including Boulez – on both sides of the Atlantic, but also dancers, especially the Judson generation of choreographers, and Earle’s “open form” concept would be taken up by Cunningham long before Cage ventured there himself.

Caroline Brown, Chance and Circumstance: 25 years with Cage and Cunningham, 43.

Although Cage and Cunningham had begun using chance means for composing their works, the final results were still as fixed in their final form as a Beethoven symphony. Earle’s ideas about open form changed all that. His Twenty-Five Pages,which he began writing in the spring of 1953 and completed while I was at Black Mountain, provides one or more (up to twenty-five) pianists with twenty-five loose pages of music, and then allows the performer to lay any number of the pages in any order, spontaneously, in performance. The mathematical possibilities are nearly endless, guaranteeing that no performance is ever likely to repeat another. In Twenty-Five Pages, all the sound material is composed, but the final form – the organization of the given material – is left open. Open form. Cage declared upon seeing the score of Twenty-Five Pages, “It’s an epoch-making piece!” and the concept of “open form” was to have an enormous impact on Cunningham’s work in the years to follow.

Caroline Brown, Chance and Circumstance: 25 years with Cage and Cunningham, 72.

[someone should curate a performance of 25 performances of Twenty-Five Pages…]

The Changing Role of the Performer Since the 20th Century - Jeff R. Miller

Above: December 1952 is perhaps Brown’s most famous score. It is part of a larger set of unusually notated music called FOLIO.

https://i0.wp.com/www.earle-brown.org/images/work/full.40.jpg

above: the cover obviously features a Motherwell painting, from his Elegies? art historian mostly have forgotten how important Motherwell was to the formation of art in NYC in the 40s and 50s, not only through his paintings, but through his writings and the salon he held at the arts student league. his writings are still important.

below: another similarly important E. Brown work, Available Forms I and II, used the same ‘open form’ compositional philosophy:

sfSoundSummerFestival 2016 Sunday ProgramWorks | Earle Brown Music Foundation

part of the open form and percussion and marimba thread… unfortunately the sound quality is not good enough to pick up the ‘brushes’ playing the mobile, and other means of playing it. they are too timid in my opinion… that might be due to the calder foundation’s limits.

according to C. Brown:

On a perfect day in late May 1963, I had accompanied Earle on an expedition to meet with Alexander Calder at his New England farmhouse on Painters Hill road in Roxbury, Connecticut. With no little trepidation, Earle was about to propose an audacious idea to this man whose work he so revered and had been so profoundly influential on his own. We were greeted by Calder’s handsome wife, Louisa, who was the grandniece of William and Henry James, and “Sandy”, as everyone was instructed to call him, a delightfully gruff, sturdyteddy bear of a man with a unruly shock of white hair. Across the pasture in the valley below was Arthur Miller’s property, where the playwright lived with his third wife, Marilyn Monroe. After lunch and a tour of the vast, sunny studio, mind-boggling in its monumental chaotic clutter – mobiles hanging from above, stabiles stalking the corners, canvases stacked against the walls, metal, coils of wired, mysterious tools everywhere – i joined Louisa in their kitchen, where every utensil, gadget, pot, and pan seemed to be a handmade Calder artifact.

The time for Earle to make his proposition had arrived: would Calder consider collaborating on a mobile/stabile that could serve as conductor for a musical composition? The answer was affirmative. Would Calder object to having the mobile elements struck with drumsticks or other percussion implements? Sandy roared with laughter: “They can kick the thing if they want to!” Four years later, Earle reported that at its premiere in Paris, “Calder Piece went very well… musicians love to play it and I like it and it is funny (four guys chasing and banging on the the mobile) and beautiful. It was a success… Calder was unexpectedly there and seemed to like it but thought we should have hit it with hammers… though we didn’t because we didn’t like the sound of it and said he’d have to make us one in brass, which would sound better.”

Caroline Brown, Chance and Circumstance: 25 years with Cage and Cunningham, 489.

I agree with Calder! It is beautiful in any case.

sound: open form: earle brown: on musical chronotopology